Evripidis and His Tragedies is the alter-ego of Evripidis Sabatis, an Athens-born, Barcelona-based queer indie musician, writer and visual artist. And the namesake took the time to have a chat with Eat This Music about his brand new album, an album that comes from many elements of his life, which Evripidis gets into.
“It feels great and also it feels like a relief,” Evripidis expresses on the release of hew new album, Neos Kosmos. “It took me many years to finish the record, some of the songs were conceived long ago but stayed in the shelf, waiting for the right time to pop out and bloom, while others were conceived and finished in a relatively short time.” Evripidis is quite obsessive and insecure, in fact, he can get stuck in a detail that nobody else notices, so at some point he really has to stop working on a record and just release it, set it free to have a life of its own.
“I was giving it the finishing touches when the pandemic came, everything changed, priorities also… at some point I realised I had to get those songs out no matter what, so I released some of them as singles until everything else that accompanies a long-play release (artwork photos, videos) was finished,” Evripidis continues. “It was a process that was slow but also more gratifying than the one I was used to before-waiting ages, then having one single out and then releasing the record as a whole. I am happy from the feedback so far.”
Neos Kosmos is a 10 song album that maps Evripidis’ particular bittersweet vision of a New World on a personal, artistic but also global level, characterised by intense contradictions. “There are tales of tragedy intertwined with the joy of living and they are all delivered with a synthesiser-driven sound that breaks away from my former, multi-instrumental musical adventures,” Evripidis reveals. “While the record was being created, so many things happened.”
Evripidis suffered and survived a terrifying homophobic attack, got himself in and out of depression, lost his best friend and then a few more, found the most rewarding love and domestic bliss in the arms of a wonderful partner, dissolved his band, learned to make music on his own on the computer, grew more aware and active politically and socially, nourished his bonds with the local queer and indie community by organising a multitude of underground musical and performing art events, started therapy.
“The songs deal with emotions and situations that are universal but time and the global situation did add new layers to them. Especially the songs who were written the longest ago went through transformations and reached new levels of growth.” — Evripidis on his new album.
“Take for example Melancholia, that was written in 2014, straight after a homophobic attack, on the piano of a friend who was sheltering me at her place because I had a broken leg and no lift at mine’s,” Evripidis says. “I wrote it as an excruciatingly sad ballad, bleak and hopeless, while sleeping in my friend’s daughter’s playroom, surrounded by a multitude of dolls and plushies.”
Explaining that scenario sounds surreal for Evripidis, playing the piano in a tiny room, surrounded by stuffed animals, with one foot in an orthopaedic boot, giving himself an injection every day, wondering why the hell those total strangers had wanted to hurt him, possibly even kill him, and recalling that even before the attack he had been trapped in the claws of depression, unable to find joy in all the things that he previously adored.
“At that point I wanted to express the desolation I was feeling,” Evripidis continues. “I got out of that state of mind, although never entirely, and left the song unfinished because I did not want to recall the experience that gave birth to it.” The years passed and Evripidis came to terms with reworking Melancholia. In fact, Evripidis was in a far better place mentally. And, from there, he decided to let some hope slip in and combine vulnerability with a sense of empowerment. That’s how that song ended being a throbbing, galactic synth pop affair, with a choir straight out of a Greek Tragedy (or The Shangri-Las, the true masters of teen-pop drama). Now the song describes a depressive state but also celebrates the importance of meaningful human relationships, how your friends and family can be a catalyst to the situation, There is no happy ending, for sure-we are left suspended and each one can imagine their own story unraveling.
Another song on the album, “The Reason“, is also a song that was written under different circumstances but ended up connecting deeply with the current state of the lockdown. “It was conceived the day I read a headline about the death of The Great Barrier Reef that impacted me deeply, alongside Trump’s election, Brexit referendum, the overwhelming rise of the far right, news about terrorist attacks,” Evripidis explains. “The song is about feeling loved and safe while dealing with the overwhelming feeling that outside the four walls you inhabit there is a threatening reality.”
When it comes to songwriting, some of the songs on the album had been composed years ago and some of them were composed along the recordings, even during the final stages of the album, like “Kanonikotita“. For some time Evripidis was working simultaneously on his Greek record, Mia Triti tin Cantina.
Although, when it comes to recording, it was a very different process from the one he was used to on his three first albums (writing the songs on the piano, then making the arrangements in his head, rehearsing with a multitude of musicians during months, even years, getting into lengthy studio sessions, a bit of a chaos really).
“It was also very different from the one that I applied to my fourth album (making midi demos on the piano, writing notes regarding music styles and then letting my producer construct the songs while I was doing the art director, then recording my vocals and piano.),” Evripidis reveals on the creative process. “For Neos Kosmos I made demos using software at home, first with the help of my boyfriend Marc Ribera (from Doble Pletina) and later on my own.”
“I did almost all the arrangements myself playing them on the keyboard, relying next to nothing on other instrument players.” — Evripidis and His Tragedies on the creation of his latest album.
“Then the producer Sérgio Perez (Svper) replaced the midi sounds with similar but richer sounds from his analogue synths,” Evripidis continues. “In the end I invited a few other singers (Rachel Kennedy from Flowers, Max Andrucki from The Smittens, Greg Goldberg from The Ballet, Francina Ribes from Doble Pletina) to sing with me. The final touch was a choir that consists of various friends from the Barcelona scene.”
“This is always a very tough question because… they are my children, I love them all,” Evripidis expresses on the album as a whole. “I am particularly proud of a few though… Melancholia, for all the reasons I explained above. Your Dreams because it also mutated a lot from the piano ballad it used to be, features Rachel’s gorgeous voice and it is the dance-with-tears-in-your-eyes indie-disco song that I had always wanted to release.”
Although, Evripidis does highlight “The Back of His Neck,” because it celebrates domestic bliss, the sense of touch and the 60’s Girl Groups heritage in the most playful way, Evripidis did allow himself to have loads of fun making the song, which is one of the most important aspects of creating art.
“I would like this album to serve as a reflection on what it means to be alive,” Evripidis says on the release of his album. “Most of us exist in a frantically capitalist society. We are obliged to be part of a hustle culture, to pretend we are strong, undefeatable even, popular, determined, with “our shit together”.”
“Our lives are often defined by others’ opinions, reviews, also by numbers-followers, likes, views, streams. Free time, hobbies, pleasure, non-profitable human interaction are all considered a luxury.” — Evripidis and His Tragedies.
“Art’s vital role has been questioned many a time,” Evripidis continues. “I often feel I am in a Black Mirror episode to be honest.” Evripidis would like people to listen to his songs and feel deeply the ups and downs of human existence. He want people to reflect on the connection with people we love and how it can be maintained even after parting. “I want us to recall and relive the pleasures of the flesh and of the soul,” he adds. “I want us to take a minute to mourn global or domestic tragedies, also get angry at them and act against their recidivism, and not just let them fade away into the clutter of everyday life.”
Evripidis wants people to take care of their mental health, to understand that is is ok to be openly vulnerable, that diversity, ally-ship and communities are pivotal in creating a better world. And, last but not least, he would like listeners to take away that a sense of humor and self sarcasm can save a dark day.
2021 looks to be a busy time for Evripidis as he is making videos, preparing to release a couple of new songs later in the year (one in English, another in Spanish) and talking with people for a possible string of remixes. “I have various songs on the making that hopefully will be able to finish little by little during this year,” Evripidis reveals. “I am considering pressing on vinyl my debut that will be 15 years old in 2022, including unreleased material plus some brand new versions of a few tracks, with the new synthetic sound I am sporting now.”
At the moment, the most important goal for people, and Evripidis included, is to heal from the scars that this pandemic brought upon us and reconnect with the people. “We are not yet out of this situation, for example, in Catalunya, where I live, there is still a considerable death toll, there are many, many people without work, surviving on benefits (or even worse, without them), there is a curfew at 10 in the night, restoration is only open until 5 in he evening… and as far as music goes, it is still very hard to play a concert unless you have some public funding,” Evripidis expresses. “Being a greek living in Barcelona, what I wish the most on a personal level is to be able to visit my family and friends in Athens sometimes soon.”
Apart from that, in 2021, Evripidis really hopes to be able to play some shows in Barcelona and then the rest of Spain at least. “I keep my expectations low, cherish every opportunity, favorable review, heartfelt comment comes my way and go on, mapping the uncharted territory that this New World is,” Evripidis concludes in our chat. “Thank you very much for having me!”